Brian Ziff

LA-based pop singer-songwriter Shaylen may have just dropped her debut EP in June, but the bubbly pop starlet is no stranger to the music industry.

"I basically came out of the womb singing," Shaylen told Popdust. As part of the pop group Savvy, the singer was thrust into the spotlight when she was just 10-years-old. The group was a breakout success and were eventually signed to Cash Money before disbanding due to creative differences.

Now, as a solo artist, she says she's learned a lot since then. "I've really learned how to have my own voice," Shaylen said. "Being in a group was very safe and squeaky clean, but I've really come to realize who I am and how to say what I need to say." Highs and Lows, Shaylen's debut EP, is a brief but colorful collection of songs that each depict a different stage of Shaylen's career thus far. We sat down with the singer to talk more about her new EP and how she plans to take over pop music.

You're not a rookie to the music industry by any stretch, but what have you learned since you've been solo?

I really learned how to have my own voice in my music and say what I want to say and how to say it. It definitely was tricky at first getting back into the headspace of being a solo artist. I was trying to figure out who I was in that time period and what to say.

What was the creative process like for Highs and Lows?

It feels like having a baby to finally have this EP out, but it really has been a lot of “highs and lows." It's really been about finding myself in this body of work. I went through addiction and family struggles, I went through breakups, and this EP is mostly about me just coming into my own. I've probably written 300+ songs, but these ones I chose are the perfect example of what I wanted to say. But it's been a friggin' awesome journey.

You said you started your career around 10, but that you've been singing since you were a baby. I'm curious if your parents were musical at all growing up?

I was always exposed to music. It was in my blood; when I was four I would sing along to Cher and would make my parents listen to me sing the Titanic theme song. My mom is in the Cardiology field and my dad is an FBI agent, so when I was young they knew [that I] was a little different.

Your dad was in the FBI? What was that like growing up?

It's been interesting. He's retired now, but when I was growing up he always traveled and was always somewhere I didn't know. So maybe that's where I got the theatrical side from, 'cause he's had to play like 20,000 different people for his job. It was a little scary.

A lot of these singles seem to focus on relationships. I'm curious: Now that you've come into your own, what you've learned about relationships?

I've found out that it's okay to have high expectations for yourself, and it's okay not to settle. As I've gotten older, I've learned it's totally okay to walk out if something isn't working for you and draining your energy. I'm really protective of my energy now, and men can be trash, but I can make a great song out of it. I feel really bad for my exes.

Any chance you've run into your ex since the songs came out?

After three years I actually finally ran into him this week, and I said everything I needed to say, and at the very end [he asked me] if the song was about [him,] and I said, "Yes, it is."

Was he cool with it?

No! He asked if I said he had a small penis, and I was like, "Yup! That's what I'm saying."

Shaylen - BTW (Official Video) www.youtube.com

Follow Shaylen on Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

CULTURE

Nazi-Chic: The Aesthetics of Fascism

Let's take a look at Nazi-inspired fashion.

Villains always have the best outfits.

From Darth Vader's polished black space armor to The Joker's snazzy purple suit, bad guys always seem to show up their protagonists in the fashion department.

Way more handsome than Batman. static.giantbomb.com

But could there possibly be a real world equivalent to the type of over-the-top villain fashion often found in fiction? It would have to be sleek and imposing, austere and dangerous. Probably black.

Maybe it's him. Maybe it's fascist ideology.

Oh, right.

Let's call a spade a spade. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Nazi SS outfit is very well-designed. The long coat tied around the waist with a buckle portrays a slim, sturdy visage. The leather boots and matching cap look harsh and powerful. The emblem placements on the lapel naturally suggest rank and authority. And the red armband lends a splash of color to what would otherwise be a dark monotone. If the Nazi uniform wasn't so closely tied with the atrocities they committed during WWII, it wouldn't seem out of place at Fashion Week. Perhaps not too surprising, considering many of the uniforms were made by Hugo Boss.

Pictured: A real thing Hugo Boss did. i.imgur.com

Of course, today, Nazi uniform aesthetics are inseparable from the human suffering doled out by their wearers. In most circles of civilized society, that's more than enough reason to avoid the garb in any and all fashion choices. But for some, that taboo isn't a hindrance at all–if anything, it's an added benefit.

As a result, we have Nazi chic, a fashion trend centered around the SS uniform and related Nazi imagery.

History of Nazi Chic

For the most part, Nazi chic is not characterized by Nazi sympathy. Rather, Nazi chic tends to be associated with counterculture movements that view the use of its taboo imagery as a form of shock value, and ironically, anti-authoritarianism.

The movement came to prominence in the British punk scene during the mid-1970s, with bands like the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees displaying swastikas on their attire alongside other provocative imagery.

Very rotten, Johnny. i.redd.it

Around this time, a film genre known as Nazisploitation also came to prominence amongst underground movie buffs. A subgenre of exploitation and sexploitation films, Naziploitation movies skewed towards D-grade fare, characterized by graphic sex scenes, violence, and gore. Plots typically surrounded female prisoners in concentration camps, subject to the sexual whims of evil SS officers, who eventually escaped and got their revenge. However, the most famous Nazisploitation film, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, flipped the genders.

The dorm room poster that will ensure you never get laid. images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com

Ilsa was a female SS officer and the victims were men. She spent much of the movie wearing her Nazi uniform in various states, sexually abusing men all the while. As such, Ilsa played into dominatrix fantasies. The movie was a hit on the grindhouse circuit, inspiring multiple sequels and knock-offs and solidifying Nazi aesthetics as a part of the BDSM scene.

Since then, Nazi chic fashion has been employed by various artists, from Madonna to Marilyn Manson to Lady Gaga, and has shown up in all sorts of places from leather clubs to character designs in video games and anime.

Lady Gaga looking SS-uper. nyppagesix.files.wordpress.com

Nazi Chic in Asia

Nazi chic has taken on a life of its own in Asia. And unlike Western Nazi chic, which recognizes Nazism as taboo, Asian Nazi chic seems entirely detached from any underlying ideology.

A large part of this likely has to do with the way that Holocaust education differs across cultures. In the West, we learn about the Holocaust in the context of the Nazis committing horrific crimes against humanity that affected many of our own families. The Holocaust is presented as personal and closer to our current era than we might like to think. It is something we should "never forget." Whereas in Asia, where effects of the Holocaust weren't as prominent, it's simply another aspect of WWII which, in and of itself, was just another large war. In other words, Nazi regalia in Asia might be viewed as simply another historical military outfit, albeit a particularly stylish one.

In Japan, which was much more involved with WWII than any other Asian country, Nazi chic is usually (but not always) reserved for villainous representations.

OF COURSE. i.imgur.com

That being said, J-Pop groups like Keyakizaka46 have publicly worn Nazi chic too, and the phenomena isn't limited to Japan.

In South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand, Nazi imagery has shown up in various elements of youth culture, completely void of any moral context. For instance, in Indonesia, a Hitler-themed fried chicken restaurant opened in 2013. And in Korea, K-Pop groups like BTS and Pritz have been called out for propagating Nazi chic fashion. Usually such incidents are followed by public apologies, but the lack of historical understanding makes everything ring hollow.

Implications

So the question then: is Nazi chic a bad thing?

The answer is not so black and white.

On one hand, seeing Nazi chic on the fashion scene may dredge up painful memories for Holocaust survivors and those whose family histories were tainted. In this light, wearing Nazi-inspired garb, regardless of intent, seems disrespectful and antagonistic. Worse than that, it doesn't even seem like a slight against authority so much as a dig at actual victims of genocide.

But on the other hand, considering the fact that even the youngest people who were alive during WWII are edging 80, "forgetting the Holocaust" is a distinct possibility for younger generations. In that regard, perhaps anything that draws attention to what happened, even if it's simply through the lens of "this outfit should be seen as offensive," might not be entirely bad. This, compounded by the fact that Nazi chic is not commonly associated with actual Nazi or nationalistic sentiments, might be enough to sway some people–not necessarily to wear, like, or even appreciate its aesthetics, but rather to understand its place within counterculture.

Ultimately, one's views on Nazi chic likely come down to their own personal taste and sensibilities. For some, Nazi chic is just a style, an aesthetic preference for something that happens to be mired in historical horror. For others, the shadow of atrocity simply hangs too strong.

[Spoilers ahead for Stranger Things 3].

Stranger Things has spawned a lot of pretty outlandish conspiracy theories.

From the proposal that the show takes place in the same universe as It to the idea that Chief Hopper's daughter was a lab experiment, speculation seems to be venturing closer and closer to Upside Down levels of absurdity.

Recently, one fan theory has surged in prominence, and it has to do with Winona Ryder. Or rather...Winona Ryders.

Think about it: The actress shot to prominence with the films Edward Scissorhands, Heathers, and Beetlejuice, becoming world-famous by the late 1980s. Stranger Things 3 takes place in 1985, and if Stranger Things 4 finds itself in 1986 or later, Winona Ryder would've already been starring in films. Thus, there's a good chance that the Stranger Things kids have heard of her. Maybe they'll have seen her in a film. Maybe they'll notice that she looks strangely like Will's mom.

Image via giphy

Some fans have proposed that the series will create some sort of time warp scenario in which, because of some wrinkle in time created by the Upside Down, the real Winona Ryder exists alongside Joyce Byers.

After all, many of the characters who have fallen into the Upside Down have encountered their doppelgängers in that glowing, dark universe. Could it be that Joyce Byers' younger doppelgänger might make her way onto the movie screens of the "right-side up" world? Could it be that she's somehow been working with the Mind Flayer this whole time?

Image via i-D Magazine

Perhaps the "real" Winona Ryder might even encounter the kids, and in a Bandersnatch-like scenario, she could inform them that a show called Netflix is recording and broadcasting their every move to the general public in the distant year 2019.

Some Mashable reporters actually asked one of the show's producers, Shawn Levy, about this very theory. "That's really funny, and I suppose it's possible," he said, adding, "Eventually, there will be an interesting new relationship between [the Stranger Things production timeline] and what's going on in the time period we are watching the show in... But as far as how those two timelines will sync up, I can't predict."

This Winona Ryder theory might be far-out, but it's not unmatched in scope. Some fans have proposed that Stranger Things is connected to the series Chernobyl, which makes sense when you think about the important role played by the Russian government in each show.

Image via Metro

Maybe the Chernobyl accident wasn't the fault of a nuclear power reactor at all. Maybe it was the result of a breach in the portal between our world and the Upside Down. According to one Reddit poster, "So did a nuclear reactor explode or did El have the greatest battle of her life?"

Other fan theories have been slightly less speculative. For example, many fans have noted that every character who dies has a name that starts with "B,"and of course, nobody thinks that Hopper is actually dead.

In some ways, Stranger Things seems designed to incubate conspiracy theories. According to The Atlantic, "Conspiracy theories, in fact, are in the show's DNA, a counterforce to all the cuddly Spielberg evocation and the tween-age bonding." That article cites the fact that before the series was called Stranger Things, it was entitled Montauk, after rumors about government-led psychological experiments on humans in military bases in Long Island, NY.

Government land in MontaukImage via Thought Catalog

"The show's story is built on the premise that various strains of delusional thinking are actually true," continues the article. "The government has conducted highly unethical drug tests on human subjects. Terrifying alien monsters are real. People can become possessed by dark external forces that absorb them into one diseased hive mind. On the rare occasions when these events are exposed, the military does cover things up."

As a proposed Area 51 invasion gains momentum in the real world (albeit the digital portion of it), Stranger Things seems to be brushing closer and closer to our reality. Some have noted that the Upside Down resembles a world ravaged by climate change. Or maybe it's indicative of the technology that, with the advent of Apple and other technologies, would soon erupt into the world, effectively ending the good old days of bike rides and walkie talkies. Could it be that the Upside Down is nothing more than...the future?

To find out the truth, of course, we'll just have to wait for Season 4.

Image via Vice